Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Health Library Home>Natural & Alternative Treatments>Herbs & Supplements>Article


Supplement Forms/Alternate Names:

American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius


Ginseng is a plant that is often used in teas and sodas. The root has been used to stimulate energy and improve brain function. Ginseng can be taken as a pill, powder, or extract.


1 gram 1 to 3 times daily

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

  • Cancer-induced nausea and vomiting —likely to ease symptoms D1
  • Erectile dysfunction —likely to ease symptoms H1, H2
  • High blood pressure —likely to lower blood pressure J1, J2
  • Menopause —likely to improve sex drive and ease hot flash discomfort K1, K2

May Be Effective

  • Acute respiratory infection —may ease sore throat A1
  • Cancer fatigue —may ease fatigue C1, C2
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) —may improve lung function and quality of life E1, E2
  • Diabetes —may improve glucose control and insulin sensitivity G1-G6
  • Multiple sclerosis —may ease fatigue and improve quality of life L1, L2
  • Schizophrenia —may improve memory O1

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Alzheimer Disease B1, B2
  • Cognitive function F1
  • Fatigue I1
  • Neurocognitive function M1
  • Upper respiratory tract infection in children P1

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe for most adults to take ginseng in small doses for a short time. Pregnant women should not take ginseng. Ginseng may not be safe when taken over a long period. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use by women who are breastfeeding.N1-N5


Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse, such as:

  • People who take blood thinners should talk to their doctor. Ginseng may make them less effective.


A. Acute Respiratory Infection

A1. High KP, Case D, et al. A randomized, controlled trial of Panax quinquefolius extract (CVT-E002) to reduce respiratory infection in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. J Support Oncol. 2012 Sep-Oct;10(5):195-201.

B. Alzheimer Disease

B1. Lee MS, Yang EJ, et al. Ginseng for cognitive function in Alzheimer's disease: a systematic review. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009;18(2):339-344.

B2. Wang Y, Yang G, et al. Ginseng for Alzheimer’s Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Curr Top Med Chem. 2016;16(5):529-536.

C. Cancer Fatigue

C1. Barton DL, Soori GS, et al. Pilot study of Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng) to improve cancer-related fatigue: a randomized, double-blind, dose-finding evaluation: NCCTG trial N03CA. Support Care Cancer. 2010 Feb;18(2):179-87.

C2. Barton DL, Liu H, et al. Wisconsin Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) to improve cancer-related fatigue: a randomized, double-blind trial, N07C2. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013 Aug 21;105(16):1230-1238.

D. Cancer Induced Nausea and Vomiting

D1. Chen MH, May BH, et al. Integrative Medicine for Relief of Nausea and Vomiting in the Treatment of Colorectal Cancer Using Oxaliplatin-Based Chemotherapy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Phytother Res. 2016 May;30(5):741-753.

E. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

E1. Guo R, Pittler MH, et al. Herbal medicines for the treatment of COPD: a systematic review. Eur Respir J. 2006 Aug;28(2):330-338.

E2. An X, Zhang AL, et al. Oral ginseng formulae for stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review. Respir Med. 2011 Feb;105(2):165-176.

F. Cognitive Function

F1. Geng J, Dong J, et al. Ginseng for cognition. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Dec 8;(12):CD007769.

G. Diabetes

G1. Yeh GY, Eisenberg DM, et al. Systematic review of herbs and dietary supplements for glycemic control in diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2003 Apr;26(4):1277-1294.

G2. Kim S, Shin BC, et al. Red ginseng for type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Chin J Integr Med. 2011;17(12):937-944.

G3. Shergis JL, Zhang AL, et al. Panax ginseng in randomised controlled trials: a systematic review. Phytother Res. 2013 Jul;27(7):949-65.

G4. Shishtar E, Sievenpiper JL, et al. The effect of ginseng (the genus panax) on glycemic control: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. PLoS One. 2014;29(9):e107391.

G5. Gui QF, Xu ZR, et al. The Efficacy of Ginseng-Related Therapies in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Feb;95(6):e2584.

G6. Jenkins AL, Morgan LM, et al. Co-administration of a konjac-based fibre blend and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) on glycaemic control and serum lipids in type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled, cross-over clinical trial. Eur J Nutr. 2018 Sep;57(6):2217-2225.

H. Erectile Dysfunction

H1. Jang DJ, Lee MS, et al. Red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction: a systematic review. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Oct;66(4):444-450.

H2. Borrelli F, Colalto C, et al. Herbal Dietary Supplements for Erectile Dysfunction: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Drugs. 2018 Apr;78(6):643-673.

I. Fatigue

I1. Arring NM, Millstine D, et al. Ginseng as a Treatment for Fatigue: A Systematic Review. J Altern Complement Med. 2018 Jul;24(7):624-633.

J. High Blood Pressure

J1. Komishon AM, Shishtar E, et al. The effect of ginseng (genus Panax) on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. J Hum Hypertens. 2016 Oct;30(10):619-626.

J2. Lee HW, Lim HJ, et al. Ginseng for Treating Hypertension: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Double Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trials. Curr Vasc Pharmacol. 2017;15(6):549-556.

K. Menopause

K1. Huntley AL, Ernst E. A systematic review of herbal medicinal products for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. Menopause. 2003 Sep-Oct;10(5):465-476.

K2. Lee HW, Choi J, et al. Ginseng for managing menopausal woman’s health: A systematic review of double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016;95(38):e4914.

L. Multiple Sclerosis

L1. Kim E, Cameron M, et al. American ginseng does not improve fatigue in multiple sclerosis: a single center randomized double-blind placebo-controlled crossover pilot study. Mult Scler. 2011 Dec;17(12):1523-1526.

L2. Etemadifar M, Sayahi F, et al. Ginseng in the treatment of fatigue in multiple sclerosis: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind pilot study. Int J Neurosci. 2013;123(7):480-486.

M. Neurocognitive Function

M1. Scholey A, Ossoukhova A, et al. Effects of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) on neurocognitive function: an acute, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2010 Oct;212(3):345-56.

N. Safety

N1. Yuan CS, Wei G, et al. Brief communication: American ginseng reduces warfarin's effect in healthy patients: a randomized, controlled Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2004 Jul 6;141(1):23-27.

N2. Seely D, Dugoua JJ, et al. Safety and efficacy of panax ginseng during pregnancy and lactation. Can J Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Winter;15(1):e87-94.

N3. Izzo AA, Ernst E. Interactions between herbal medicines and prescribed drugs: an updated systematic review. Drugs. 2009;69(13):1777-1798.

N4. Izzo AA. Interactions between herbs and conventional drugs: overview of the clinical data. Med Princ Pract. 2012;21(5):404-428.

N5. Choi S, Oh DS, et al. A systematic review of the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic interactions of herbal medicine with warfarin. PLoS One. 2017 Aug 10;12(8):e0182794.

O. Schizophrenia

O1. Chen EY, Hui CL. HT1001, a proprietary North American ginseng extract, improves working memory in schizophrenia: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Phytother Res. 2012;26(8):1166-1172.

P. Upper Respiratory Tract Infection in Children

P1. Vohra S, Johnston BC, et al. Safety and tolerability of North American ginseng extract in the treatment of pediatric upper respiratory tract infection: a phase II randomized, controlled trial of 2 dosing schedules. Pediatrics. 2008 Aug;122(2):e402-10.

Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated: 6/17/2020